Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2012
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Puzzlejuice

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Tetris + Boggle + wordsplosions = ultimate language fun

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Grades
5-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Many layers of addictive challenges drive players to want to master the game, and foreign language words present an interesting use for application.

Cons: It's hard, and there are no hints or easy settings – just hard, extreme, and impossible (though that is part of the challenge that makes the game fun!).

Bottom Line: Puzzlejuice offers kids a fun challenge that incorporates logic and language.

Though objectives don't directly align with Common Core standards, you could find opportunities for students to play Puzzlejuice during game or free-exploration times in English language arts classes. Or, as game options also include Spanish, French, and Italian languages, it could be an excellent addition to foreign language classes. The tone of the game is casual with a particular focus on the “wordsplosions.” It could be a fun treat after a successful day of learning in the classroom.

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Puzzlejuice is a word game app that starts out similar to Tetris. Different configurations of connected squares fall into place with guidance, and the objective is to complete rows and align colors. When colors align in the right combinations or when you complete an entire row, the colored squares turn into letters. While squares continue to fall into place and need guidance, players must also drag their finger across the letters horizontally, vertically, or diagonally to create words -– the longer the better. When players create a word, the blocks around it explode (the longer the word, the bigger the “wordsplosion”!) and the game continues, in Core Mode, until the blocks reach the top of the screen. Zen Mode is a quick 90-second game.

In Core Mode, students can choose their difficulty level: hard, euro extreme, or impossible. Each brings different objectives, such as spelling a five-letter word, spelling 10 words, and popping 10 color groups, in the hard mode; faster play and only five-letter and longer words destroying nearby blocks in euro mode; and even faster play and penalties for three-letter words in impossible mode. The tutorial is thorough and helpful -- and a little snarky -- and players can share scores on Game Center. Kids will be tickled by a quick game-exiting option called “rage quit,” which throws all the blocks up in the air and ends the game.

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Gameplay is fast, and students must think quickly and manage multiple aspects of play at once; this can boost their strategy and puzzle-solving skills. The scoreboard tracks all words created as well as scores, giving you a place to do a quick check-in on progress. Multiple students can track their scores on one device. Players can also look up the English words from their list in the dictionary, which gives students the chance to learn a little vocabulary. 

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

The Tetris-like logic component is addictive to play, and kids may enjoy the change of pace and added challenge of creating words.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
2

Though it incorporates some logic and wordplay, the skills are unlikely to transfer into real-world or academic usage. The app could be a gem to use in foreign-language classes since it can be played using Spanish, French, or Italian words.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

The tutorial is very helpful, and the app tracks students' scores and connects to Game Center. The objectives are well-explained. Accessibility-wise, a color-blind option is available.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Ashley K. , Other
Other
4
Addicting word game: An interesting spin on Tetris!

I really liked how excited my students were about this game. I will continue to use this game on the classroom iPad to give students who are finished with work early an opportunity to play a language-boosting game. I will not, however, use it for every student, because of the multi-layer challenges (you need to complete the Tetris-style block puzzle and THEN create the words, while more blocks are still dropping). As a young adult, I was pleased that the directions and choices were given in "kid talk" (for instance, to end the game a player will choose "Rage Quit"), but it bordered on a line of confusion for students with language deficits (common in our school). I also liked how there are different challenges for each level, and that at the end of each game the app allows you to define the words you found.

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